There’s a fungus lurking, waiting to destroy your lawn. This fungus is known by many names. Its most obvious one is “Brown Patch Disease,” which is a descriptive name. It’s also known as “Large Patch” or by its scientific name, “Rhizoctonia Blight.”
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The most frequent victim of this fungus is the St. Augustine grass that is common in Florida lawns. Unfortunately, Brown Patch Disease can also affect several varieties of warm-season turf grass.
Unlike other bugs and diseases that thrive in the hot, wet summer months, Brown Patch Disease is more likely to impact your lawn when temperatures drop below 70 degrees. It also needs wet grass to survive, so days without high humidity or rain can interrupt its lifecycle.
Nitrogen-heavy lawns with lots of thatch seem to be at a higher risk of contracting Brown Patch Disease. Avoid using too much nitrogen in your lawn fertilizer. Also be sure to mow the healthy areas of your lawn first and thoroughly clean the grass clippings after trimming infected areas. This fungus can be spread from one area to another by traveling on the mower blades.
Identifying Brown Patch Disease
The first signals are small circles of yellow grass. Later on, you’ll notice redder, browner and completely dead areas of grass. Some people notice that there is a green center surrounded by a circle of brown grass.
As the fungus attacks the grass, the base where the stem meets the blade will look wilted. It may give off a nasty odor or show signs of a soft, dark rot. Try pulling up the grass out of the soil. If it comes out too easily, it’s a sign that it’s been severely weakened.
If you are infected, it may take a long time for your yard to recover, because during cold weather, your grass naturally isn’t growing as quickly. To stop the fungus in its tracks, you’ll need a fungicide. As mentioned in the previous tip, this job is for professionals only. Fungicide can be dangerous and difficult to apply properly.